Puck’s 1st Annual Guide to Mirth and Merriment!

Puck’s 1st Annual Holiday Guide to Mirth and Merriment
The Editors
December 16, 2021

Puck’s journalists endeavor to take readers closer than ever to the story behind the story at the nexus of Hollywood, Wall Street, Washington, and Silicon Valley. But they aren’t just elite reporters and analysts; they’re tastemakers and cultural arbiters, too. 

And as we enter the final stretches of the year—when gifting, deal-hunting, and self-indulgence abound—we’ve asked everyone on our team to share what they are consuming and giving, wishing for and scouring, alike. It’s our first annual non-denominational, pan-holiday, all-inclusive guide to seasonal mirth and merriment! 

Thanks for all your support in 2021, and happy new year to all. –The Puck Team


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  • In the car: The new Brandi Carlile album. I first saw her play at the Clive Davis pre-Grammys party a couple years ago and I became a big fan. She’s the perfect combination of powerful voice and songwriting skills. While I’m writing: I listen to the No Time to Die soundtrack. The James Bond music motivates me, for some reason. –Matt Belloni, Founding partner and Hollywood editor

  • Phillip Glass‘s opera Akhnaten. It’s about an ancient pharaoh who declared that only one god existed (the sun disc, Aten) and went on this crusade to rid Egypt of its polytheistic religious order. And it’s Philip Glass. Heresy has never sounded so inscrutable. –Tina Nguyen, Founding partner and National correspondent

  • The National, The Grateful Dead and Radiohead, natch. Who can argue with these choices? But just in case there’s some clap back, I also take heavy doses of Taylor Swift (especially her two recent albums where she collaborates with Aaron Dessner, a National band member, and with Bon Iver). –Bill Cohan, Founding partner and Wall Street correspondent

  • Spotify Holiday Pop: I have two young girls (7 and 5) and all they want to listen to is Kelly Clarkson and Sia Christmas songs on repeat. –Joe Purzycki, Co-founder and C.E.O.


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  • Toast: This song by Koffee, a young Jamaican singer, is a couple years old, but I don’t think I’ll ever tire of it. Even without the words, it’s an instant mood-lift and just a great bop, especially for dancing around my living room. –Julia Ioffe, Founding partner and Washington correspondent

  • Since we have Spotify Wrapped data on this: My top artist of 2021 was Khruagbin. Just turn on their Spotify radio station next time you have people over. –Peter Hamby, Founding Partner

  • Disney+’s Hawkeye, a refreshingly grounded Marvel Studios show that really gets what wealthy Manhattanites would be like if superheroes existed. –Tina Nguyen

  • I recently discovered The Other Two on HBO Max, and it’s a hilariously raunchy send-up of celebrity culture with very fun actors—Wanda Sykes in particular. The new season of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm is typically excellent, especially Tracey Ullman and the woman who plays the untalented actress that Larry is forced to hire to appease the brother of a guy who drowned in his pool (trust me, it makes sense on the show). I also loved The Rescue, on Disney+, a thrilling doc about the complex cave-diving operation to extract the Thai soccer team, from the filmmakers that won an Oscar for Free Solo. –Matt Belloni

  • Gentefied, The Crown, and the first three Matrix movies so I am prepared for the 4th one. All the Daniel Craig Bond movies. –Baratunde Thurston

  • Landscapers on HBO Max. A sophisticated and oddly touching miniseries dramatization of the real-life case of Susan and Christopher Edwards, a British couple who were convicted in 2014 of murdering Susan’s parents and burying their bodies in the back garden. Olivia Colman and David Thewlis are remarkable. –Benjamin Landy, Founding partner and Executive editor


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  • I just finished the second season of The Great on Hulu, an “occasionally true story” about Catherine the Great, which was a really fun watch. I’m dreading having to wait a year for the next season of Succession, but I’ve started the new season of How To with John Wilson, another HBO show which depicts a humbler side of New York. –Isabella Lichauco, Social media manager/Brand designer

  • Survivor, Season 41, duh. Almost exclusively because I grew up with one of the now-ousted players this season. Almost. –Teddy Schleifer, Founding partner

  • Casa de Papel, Season 5. The amazing hostage thriller is available on Netflix. –Alex Bocquet, Growth marketing manager

  • All of them. I’m absolutely not one of the people (per Belloni’s reporting) who claim they’ll never return to the theater. Give me my Peanut M&Ms and my West Side Story, and I’m happy. –Alex Bigler, VP Brand + Partnerships

  • Matrix Resurrections (even though I’ve heard it’s bad). Also Sing 2 with my kid. The first one is his favorite. –Matt Bellioni

  • Tough one but I’d say… Dune. This is what my sons tell me anyway. I would have been content to stream it, sitting on my couch at home, which is another thing the pandemic taught us. –Bill Cohan


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  • Nightmare Alley, the Guillermo del Toro remake of the classic noir thriller. –Baratunde Thurston

  • King Richard on HBO Max, the awards contender about Venus and Serena’s infamously difficult father and coach. It’s also written by my fellow Delawarian, Zach Baylin. –Joe Purzycki


  • The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallwey, which teaches you how to silence your mind and get out of your own way—in tennis and in life. –Dylan Byers, Founding partner and Media Correspondent 
  • Bonus Track: Winning Ugly, a tome for those of us whose game doesn’t even have an inner life. –Max Tcheyan, Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer 

  • The Engagement, by Sasha Issenberg, which charts one of the rarest accomplishments in American politics: huge changes in public opinion. Issenberg deftly shows the political forces behind our new consensus on gay marriage—anyone looking to change anything would be wise to read it. –Teddy Schleifer 

  • Audience-ology, by Kevin Goetz. It’s a new book by one of the experts in movie test screenings, and it reveals what researchers have learned about how audiences consume content. Some big alarm bells for the future of movies, especially in theaters. –Matt Belloni 


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  • S. N. Berman’s People in a Diary. It turns out the famed New Yorker writer is from my hometown of Worcester, Massachusetts and a distant relative. My people knew his people, I’m discovering. His greatest book was Duveen, about the famous 20th century art dealer. –Bill Cohan 

  • The Quartermaster by Robert O’Harrow Jr., about Montgomery C. Meigs, the Quartermaster General under Lincoln. He’s considered an unsung hero of the Civil War, because his management of supply chains kept the Union Army fed, clothed, and mobile. Reminds me of working at a start-up. –Alex Bigler

  • Bad Boy: My Life On and Off the Canvas by Eric Fischl. Written with Michael Stone, the controversial artist holds nothing back recounting his childhood in Long Island, the alcoholism in his family, his mother’s suicide, his insecurities and struggles as an artist from his time at CalArts to the New York art scene in the late ‘70s, and life after leaving the artistic epicenter of the late 20th century. He dishes some art world gossip, like his falling out with Jerry Saltz, and his chapters are interspersed with accounts from the people who know him well, including Julian Schnabel, David Salle, and Steve Martin. –Isabella Lichauco

  • Zuleikha, by Guzel Yakhina: Russia is known for its literature, though the first decades after the Soviet collapse produced some meh books, in my opinion. In the last few years, though, Russia has seen a crop of books by young women writers and the work is of tremendous literary quality. This novel, by a Tatar-Russian writer, is about the bloody collectivization drive of the late 1920s and early 1930s and how it affected one Tatar woman named Zuleikha. Beautifully written, this one is not for the faint of heart. –Julia Ioffe 


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  • A Rivian SUV, on order. First of all, it’s time to go electric. Time to begin the necessary weaning off fossil fuels, even though generating electricity of course uses fossil fuels. And I can’t stomach the thought of further enriching Elon Musk. Plus, the Rivian SUV is awesome looking and beautifully engineered. And, if that weren’t enough, Dan Loeb is a big investor in the company! –Bill Cohan

  • It’s not picnic season, and I’m at home more than I’d like to be, but… My god, I fell in love with this beautiful portable mini-bar when I read about it in Air Mail. –Jon Kelly, Co-founder and Editor-in-chief

  • Tis the season for giving, so for myself and as a stocking stuffer I’m excited to get my hands on Air Mail’s pajama collaboration with Alex Mill. –Joe Purzycki

  • I’m a longtime fan and client of Nine Fair Backgammon; they make hand-painted backgammon boards with an opportunity to feature a logo, a monogram, a wedding logo, etc. After giving several to friends, I think it’s finally time to buy one for myself! –Liz Gough, Co-founder and C.O.O.


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  • I’ve been on the hunt for a new wool jacket, and after much deliberation, settled on Nanushka’s Alamo coat in camel. –Isabella Lichauco


  • A variety pack of tea from Steven Smith Teamaker. The teas are sublime but not too exotic. The late Smith, who died too young, was the founder of both Stash and Tazo before embarking on his eponymous tea company in Portland, Oregon. –Bill Cohan

  • Everyone is gettinfg a bottle of Aesop hand sanitizer. Having tried 1,000 different hand sanitizers during Covid, I can confidently say this one smells and feels the best. –Liz Gough

  • A mini whisk. I had no idea how integral a mini whisk would be to my life until I got one. –Alex Bigler

  • This Waystar Royco baseball cap. And I always welcome socks. –Isabella Lichauco


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  • Canndescent Pre-Rolls, because everyone deserves to get lit up like a Christmas tree this season. In a clever bit of marketing, Canndescent brands each strain by desired mood—Calm, Cruise, Create, etc.—so you can tailor your experience for a silent night, walking in a winter wonderland, decking the halls. Fa la la. –Dylan Byers

  • Red Boat Fish Sauce. My brother turned me onto it after he did Peace Corps service in Thailand. You aren’t cooking Thai food at home without it. –Peter Hamby

  • If I were going to parties, I’d probably ransack every wine store I know for any País, a Chilean red varietal that’s sort of like a more sophisticated version of beaujolais nouveau. (My favorite is Viña Maitia Aupa Pipeño, an unusual wine with a friendly price point.) That, or Vietnamese snake wine. –Tina Nguyen

  • We’re subscribers to a small winery called Kunin, near Santa Barbara. They make an excellent Pinot Noir. –Matt Belloni

  • This Francois Montand Brut Blanc de Blancs Magnum, from St. Vincent Wine in Washington, D.C. –Julia


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  • No wine. Whiskey. Uncle Nearest. He was the enslaved distiller who taught Jack Daniels everything. –Baratunde Thurston

  • I’m a member and huge fan of Dumol, a small winery in the Russian River Valley. They’re so small that you can’t buy their wine through regular e-commerce, so it’s an extra special treat to gift. –Liz Gough 

  • A Boulevardier. Campari is the jewel of the bar. –Alex Bigler

  • If you want to impress your hosts with an immediately drinkable crowd pleaser then you cannot go wrong with a bottle of 2016 Luigi Ferrando Carema White Label. An amazing year for nebbiolos, and this delicate and light red comes from one of Italy’s greatest winemakers. –Joe Purzycki

  • A “Dean Martin,” via Devon Tarby and Alex Day of Death & Company: 1.75 oz Tanqueray Gin, .25 oz Clear Creek Douglas Fir Brandy, .5 oz La Quintinye Vermouth Royal Blanc, .5 oz Boissiere Dry Vermouth, 1 drop salt solution. Garnish: 4 sprays of Après-Ski Tincture. –Dylan Byers


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  • My wife gave me a Panerai Luminor a couple years ago, and it’s served me well. –Matt Belloni

  • My Panerai Luminor. My uncle gave it to me. Panerai feels more subtle and less flashy than most fancy watches. But it still prompts the “nice watch” comment from people who see it and know what’s up. –Peter Hamby

  • The Bell and Ross BR 01-92 Automatic. I mean just look at the thing. It’s gorgeous! It’s the closest you can get to feeling like Chuck Yeager without stepping into the cockpit of NASA’s new supersonic jet currently under development. Alas, I don’t have one because I don’t wear watches much anymore. I tell time on my iPhone. –Bill Cohan

  • For anyone who appreciates midcentury modernism, nothing beats the Junghans Max Bill Chronoscope—first released in 1961, still timeless. It’s been on my wishlist almost as long. –Ben Landy


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  • My vintage Rolex from the 1920s. It was a gift from my husband—at first, I was too afraid to wear it, but now I can’t imagine my wrist without it. It makes me feel like a character from a le Carré novel. –Alex Bigler

  • The Rolex Oyster Perpetual has been my everyday go-to for years, and I actually think it looks better with some wear; and a vintage Piaget with the tiniest face for dressier events. –Isabella Lichauco

  • My grandpa’s 1954 Breitling. –Alex Bocquet

  • The sun. –Baratunde Thurston

  • I finally got a Peloton during the quarantine, so I’d say Cody Rigsby is my must-have accessory. –Matt Belloni

  • Tonal. They have cool ads with LeBron. I’m not getting one because I’m afraid of ripping my wall apart with my superhuman strength, and I don’t know how I would explain that to my landlord. –Baratunde Thurston


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  • A 40 lb kettlebell. It doesn’t perfectly go with my living room decor, but it certainly sends a message. –Alex Bigler 

  • I own a single piece of exercise equipment, and it’s the Concept2 rowing machine—created in 1981 and basically unchanged since. The fact that they almost never lose their value is all you need to know about the durability and unrivaled functionality. I just wish it took up less space! –Ben Landy 

  • Nike’s React Phantom Run Flyknit 2. They slip on so I wear them around the house, for running errands, for workouts—and they’re also great to travel with. –Peter Hamby

  • I’m that unusual runner who actually likes zoning out on the treadmill, indifferent to the tedium and whatever long-term knee damage I might inflict. So this year I’m buying myself (and my wife) the Peloton Tread. Hopefully it works out better for me than for Peloton’s stock price. –Jon Kelly

  • Faena Miami Beach, specifically one of their suites. I once got to stay there for an event and it’s the most ludicrously decadent place I’ve ever stepped foot in. The entire place smells of palo santo because the owner made his own custom scent. Tina Nguyen 


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  • Amangiri in Canyon Point, Utah. Okay, this place is incredible. It’s in the middle of nowhere—a four-hour drive from Vegas—north of the north rim of the Grand Canyon. It’s in its own canyon and looks like what a settlement on Mars should look like, only it’s in Utah! If you can’t get there, Aman Resorts will soon be opening its newest hotel/spa at 57th Street and Fifth Avenue, in a building once owned by Eliot Spitzer. So there’s that, too. –Bill Cohan

  • I’m planning a summer 2022 trip to Il San Pietro for my mother’s big birthday, which is coming up next year. It’s a bucket list trip for our family. –Liz Gough

  • Palazzo Avino in Ravello. This is a gorgeous, immaculate hotel up in the hills above the Amalfi Coast, and while my fondest memories from that part of Italy actually live at Le Sirenuse in Positano, I find myself longing for the sense of retreat one finds in Ravello, and the sense of perspective the elevation gives you on the sea and the land. It’d be the perfect place to write a book. –Dylan Byers

  • My friend Michalis Melenos’ namesake boutique hotel, Melenos, in the town of Lindos on Rhodes, Greece. Dining on fresh fish while staring out over the Aegean there is heaven.  –Alex Bigler

  • I had one of the best sleeps of my life at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo; probably thanks in part to the pajama set that comes with the room. Plus, the Tsukiji fish market is less than a mile away. –Isabella Lichauco

  • Sky Ting TV’s monthly yoga subscription. This was my favorite studio when I lived in New York because of its unique practice style and I was thrilled to see they started streaming classes. –Tina Nguyen

  • Butcher Box. We frantically subscribed at the beginning of the pandemic, then found we couldn’t live without the pork chops or ground turkey. Every delivery is like a visit from your best meat-loving friend. –Matt Belloni

  • The Atlas Coffee Club, a boutique coffee subscription service that delivers hard-to-find artisan coffees each month, pairs perfectly with the aforementioned Barista Express… –Ben Landy

  • The Calm app. But not for the guided meditation. For the sleep stories—particularly the train ones. Put on “The Glacier Express” and tell me you don’t have the best sleep of your life. –Alex Bigler

  • Vinyl Me, Please. Every month they send you a piece of newly-pressed vinyl from their collection, and you get to choose which musical “track” you want. I’m doing Classics, so I’ve been getting old soul and jazz stuff like Freddie King, Lee Morgan, Teddy Pendergrass. –Peter Hamby

  • Disney will buy a major video game publisher. –Matt Belloni

  • I hate making predictions. But you’re making me. So… The G.O.P. formally comes out against democracy and people start wearing corsages just for fun. –Baratunde Thurston

  • Angela Merkel fronts a punk band and wins a Grammy. –Alex Bigler

  • There will be a group of people, who, even with vaccinations and boosters, will essentially choose to never re-enter corporate life in perpetuity. –Teddy Schleifer

  • The press will report on large tech companies with nuance and without sweeping, hair-on-fire outrage about “Big Tech,” instead illuminating the important distinctions between each of these major companies—their values, platform designs and business models—all with a heavy dose of expertise in antitrust law, potential regulatory frameworks, and even just some passing knowledge about the private sector. You asked for bold! –Peter Hamby

  • The QAnon caucus of the House will try to file articles of impeachment against Joe Biden for… reasons. – Tina Nguyen
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